How to Make a Massage Demo Video to Get New Clients

I’ve recently done something revolutionary for my massage business: I made a video of myself in action. My new clients increased substantially, my Facebook business page started getting a lot more views and likes, and my advertising dollars suddenly stretched a lot farther.

The days of describing your style and hoping people got the picture were… fine. Trying to tell people how my massage style was different from everyone else’s was always an adventure, because I had to ride that fine line between sounding exactly like everyone else and sounding like a pompous jerk. But it’s the year 2016 or so, and we’re well into the age of easy online video. Why don’t we show instead of just telling?

It’s really not so hard. There might be some equipment to buy, and the editing can be a bit of trouble, but I promise that it’s worth the effort.

Okay hotshot, what does a demo video look like?

Here’s how my first one came out:

Super fancy, right? Looks like it took a lot of time and effort? Probably had a key grip and a best boy and all that? Nope, it was just me, a volunteer, and a handycam on a tripod. The shooting took 45 minutes with set-up, and the editing took a while longer. Overall, it’s easily been the most fruitful time investment I’ve put into my business in recent memory.

If you’re thinking that you couldn’t make one that looks this good, please consider the following: My feet were sliding all over the place during the entire shoot (my gracious hostess had just mopped), I just barely managed to avoid showing my sweat stains that appeared approximately 3 minutes into filming, and I spent half the time dragging the table to new positions so that my model wasn’t in shadow the entire time. I thought it was a fiasco, and I still cringe watching this thing.

And yet… you probably thought it was just dandy. The moral here is to just make the video. Even if you feel like it comes out crummy, it will still show off your techniques, and no one else will be nearly as critical as you.

What equipment will I need?

  1. A camera. For this, any high-end cellphone from the last 4 years will do just fine. You can also use most pocket cameras, and you may even have a friend with a fancy-pants pro camera (only go this route if said friend is willing to help you use it, these things are tricky).
  2. A tripod. This one is optional. You could prop your phone somewhere and just use a single angle and it would work. You could also have someone hold the camera. That said, I think that the quality increases significantly when you use a tripod: You can get exactly the angle that you want, there won’t be camera shake, and it’s easy to change angles based on the techniques you’re demonstrating. Consider this an investment: Once you’ve done your first video, future videos are waaaay easier, and videos perform really well on Facebook. I recommend this cheap tripod from Amazon, as well as a mount for your cellphone if that’s what you plan to use.
  3. A computer. A laptop will work just fine. You’ll need to hook your phone or camera up to the computer and transfer the files. The procedure varies between different hardware (Mac vs. PC, etc), so be prepared to Google it if this is your first time. Don’t just email the video to yourself, as many phones will heavily compress the file (making it blocky and tiny) to make the file size more manageable.
  4. Editing software. I guarantee that you either have video editing software on your computer right this second, or that you can download it for free/cheap. If you’re on a PC, there’s Movie Maker. If you’re on a Mac, there’s iMovie. There are also apps to edit video right on a phone or tablet, but that’s not something I’ve ever messed with. In any case, these basic programs are meant to be very user friendly, and they can make some really nice looking video files.

If you’re not computer savvy, find a friend who likes messing with that kind of stuff.  You can pay them by letting them be your massage model. Win-win!

What should I do during the shoot?

When I’m looking for a good massage, I’m looking for flow and confidence first and foremost. In other words, just do a basic routine for your demo video. I recommend a back massage, because it allows for many interesting techniques and angles, and because people love to see that kind of work. I’ve got a neck massage demo that looks better but that didn’t do half as well.

Let people see that you travel the entire length of the back, and that each technique melds seamlessly into the next. Let them see you calmly transition from effleurage to a shoulder-encompassing petrissage. If you feel like including some fancy moves, do this as part of a broader routine. In other words, don’t just take shot after shot of moves that you think will be picturesque; just do a good massage.

As you do so, move the camera every 4 or 5 minutes (or as needed to keep yourself from blocking the action). Get back into your flow, and take 5 more minutes of good work. Repeat a few times until you come to a good stopping point, slowly remove your hands from your client’s back, and cover them with the drape. Future-you will use this time to fade to black.

On editing

Don’t get too fancy with the editing, especially this first time. No need to worry about a title card, or credits at the end. In fact, get to the action within the first few seconds. Anything else risks people scrolling on past.

Try for a final length of less than 3 minutes. You want people to be able to see what you’re about, but this isn’t an instructional video. It’s just a quick taste of what your routine looks like, and then you’re done. Too much and you risk people scrolling by without interacting with the video (e.g. hitting “like,” liking your page, commenting). There’s not much danger in your video being too short, so feel free to make some big cuts.

Really, I feel like the editing part is magic. It allows you to highlight yourself when you look your best, and snip out the bits where you’re slouching or itching your nose or making a funny face. You have no idea how much embarrassing junk ends up on my cutting room floor.

Some quick rules for editing:

  • Use slow “fade” transitions. Sharp cuts can seem abrupt, but slow fades from one angle to another will fit with the theme of your video.
  • Maintain visual interest. That means only spending short amounts of time showing any one angle or technique. Unless you’re doing something really cool, try to cut to something new pretty frequently.
  • Be heavy-handed. Cut out big chunks of video, even if it hurts. You need to finish with just a couple of minutes of footage, so avoid the temptation to leave in that whole 5 minute sequence where you do some really neat low back work.
  • Consider the project as a whole. So, if you have to cut a lot, what do you leave? Leave the parts that tell a story. Show yourself making that initial contact and first long stroke down the back. Cut to yourself kneading the low back, then swooping up toward the shoulders. Cut to effleurage in the upper back, and those first big scoops of the trapezius. Cut to some groovy rotator cuff work, and some manipulation of the arm. End with some strokes that bring the back together again, the slow removal of your hands, and then fade to black.

Basically, tell the story of your back massage in a couple of minutes. Make it slow and deliberate rather than jumpy. Show some of the tools in your toolbox, but don’t feel like they need to see your whole 20 minute routine.

But you had music! And a voice over!

You can do that stuff too! In fact, I do recommend muting the audio that your camera picked up and replacing it with something. You can find lots of free spa-type music on this cool website Incompetech, or you can use Steven O’Brien’s music over at Sound Cloud (heck, feel free to use the exact same music as me).

As for the voice over? Only do one if you want to. The main purpose of this project is to show people your moves. Anything else is just gravy.

If you do feel like adding one, you can either use a voice recording app on your cellphone (easy), or you can get a cheap dedicated mic and record using free software (not as easy). Only do the latter if you’re willing to research microphones and know your way around a computer.

In summary:

  • Get some equipment together. This may mean buying some stuff, or just borrowing a camera and tripod from a friend.
  • Set up a play date with a friend or client who wants to get some free massage.
  • Take 30 minutes of video, changing angles as you do so. You may not feel like you did your best massage, or you might think the lighting was all wrong. It’ll be fine, because you’ll…
  • Do some editing. In fact, you’re going to be cutting things down to just a few minutes, which will just happen to be the most impressive minutes of the video shoot. You may need to do some googling to figure out the software, but you should have some nice transitions and some pretty music in the background in no time.

Then, you export the video, upload it to your Facebook business page, and you’re done! This first try might be a little rough, but there’s this rule that I live by: Start where you are. If you’d rather wait to release videos until you’re already super polished and professional, you’ll never get started at all.

What now?

First, boost that bad boy. Videos do really well on Facebook, and any advertising dollars that you sink into it will stretch much farther than usual. When I first released that video above, I would boost if for 2 bucks a day for 20 days out of the month. This got me quite a few new clients and a couple hundred likes over the course of a few months. Check out my post on Facebook boosting for more.

Second… make more videos! I just released my second stretching video on my personal business page, and it’s getting me a good number of views, likes, etc. Just like with my demo video, I keep these short and to the point. If you’ve already got the tripod and the editing experience, why not keep that train rolling?

Thanks for reading, and let me know if you end up producing one of these! I’d love to know how it works for you. Please feel free to leave questions below.

Comments? Stories? Tell me stuff.

  1. Hi Ian I’ve been stalking your youtube tutorial for a while now. You have made me more fired up about massage therapy all over again. Ive been in practice for a while so I’ve become very complacent about marketing and massage in general. looking to revamp my practice and getting new bodies into my practice. Going to make my first video demo this week I am little nervous about it but sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone. Hoping this will be a start of a whole new thriving massage practice. Thank you for you inspiration.

    • That’s awesome, Noeuth! Please let me know if you have any questions, and keep us update on your progress at the Clubhouse 🙂 The first video can be a pain, but it gets easier every time.